"He handled himself with a tremendous amount of class. I was pleased with that. He showed a lot of maturity, and he thanked me for the opportunity. It wasn't an easy situation, and I know it's tough for him, but he understood. He was a man about it.''
-- Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt, to me, explaining the admiration he had with Matt Leinart during their conversation Saturday morning.
"We actually have in the Collective Bargaining Agreement the ability to take it to 22 games. That's not the spirit of it. You want players to be buying into it. Certainly it has the chance of enhancing the player's financial benefits because it does grow the pie. The more the pie grows, the players get the majority of the money when the pie grows. I think the nature of how you would prepare for those 18 games would have less physical impact than we have now. At the end of the day I think we will be going to 18 games, but certainly with the positive input of players."
-- Dallas owner Jerry Jones, to KRLD in Dallas, via sportsradiointerviews.com, on the prospect of the 18-game schedule -- or a longer one some day.
"I told him there are no style points for throwing the football.''
-- John Elway, to me, the other day, discussing a football conversation he had with Tim Tebow.
"You can be a world champion, but not like this. We won't win it! We'll sit back and say, 'Why didn't we do it?' We didn't do it because where were our f------ priorities? How about our offense? When are we going to put it together? When are we going to put it together? Can we not run the ball down their throats every snap? Can we not throw it any time we want to f------ throw it? Let's make sure we play like the f------ New York Jets! And not some f------ slapd--- team. That's what I want to see tomorrow. Do we understand what the f--- I want to see tomorrow? Let's go eat a god--- snack."
-- Jets coach Rex Ryan, ending his fiery night-before speech to his team before it faced the Redskins in preseason week three. (See the full speech here.)
A snack! A pep talk ending in a inspirational snack reference! That's the Hard Knocks Quote of All Time, Ross Greenburg and Steve Sabol.
I must say I've never seen a coach exhort his team to eat an evening snack quite the same way before.
What I like about the Football Outsiders 2010 Almanac and what I've liked about past efforts of their summer annual, is that it answers questions that always have you confounded. Last week, with the umpire-repositioning issue having the league abuzz, I wondered if the Colts were the team that would get jobbed the most by taking away the ability to run the hurry-up offense. And sure enough, Football Outsiders has a stat for the teams that ran the fastest offensive plays, on average, in 2009. In "total pace,'' which measures the rate of play for all teams on plays where there wasn't a natural clock stoppage (as with an incompletion or change of possession, the quick-playing teams in the NFL in 2009, according to Football Outsiders, in order, were Seattle, Kansas City, Detroit, Indianapolis and Atlanta.
A few other interesting numbers from the 2010 Almanac, on sale at footballoutsiders.com, and beginning with a stat about a quarterback who, for some reason, so many people believe is declining, even after a 4,398-yard passing season:
1. Tom Brady faced the hardest schedule of pass defenses of any quarterback since 1993.
2. To understand how overrated the San Diego pass rush is, you have to look past sacks and check out hits and hurries. After two straight years ranking 31st in hurries per pass play, the 2009 Chargers improved ... to 30th. They also ranked dead last with only 26 quarterback hits.
3. Like sister-in-law Elisabeth, Matt Hasselbeck loves to go to his right. The Seahawks threw more than half their passes to the right side of the field for the fourth straight season, and had the highest rate in the league for the third time in those four years.
4. Green Bay safety Nick Collins has eight dropped interceptions over the past two years. No other defender has more than six.
5. Oakland's Darrius Heyward-Bey caught only 23 percent of intended passes last year. That's the lowest rate of any receiver with at least 40 pass targets in the 17 years for which we have data, going back to 1993.
My advice to you, if you like to find out how statistics and analysis can help you understand the game, is to buy the book.
The Patriots, when the roster dust settled, found themselves with an incredibly green defensive secondary. Could there be another secondary in the NFL with nine players all shy of their 27th birthdays? They'll have to grow up in a hurry this fall, especially with no proven pass-rusher, except perhaps Tully Banta-Cain, who is coming off a 10-sack season. The youth of the New England secondary:
When Matt Moore takes the field at the Meadowlands Sunday against the Giants, it will mark the ninth straight year the Panthers open a season with a starting quarterback they didn't draft. Chris Weinke (fourth round, 2001) was the last Carolina draftee to take the first snap of the season.
This happened on the Delta Shuttle flight from LaGuardia to Boston last Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.: The flight had open seating, other than the first four rows of first class on the A319 aircraft, and when the flight was called, we were told to take any seat we liked. I settled into my exit row seat on the fairly empty flight (when's the last time you've been on one of those?) when the man in line behind me in the boarding process watched me sit down, then looked at his ticket, and looked up and down the rows.
"Where is 'Y?' '' he said. "Do you know?''
"What do you mean?'' I said.
" 'Y,' '' he said, showing me the ticket.
As on my ticket, the seat part of his boarding pass read, "Y.'' Who knows why, but everyone was just taking any seat.
"Oh,'' I said. "It's open seating.''
He looked at me, confused, about to ask another question.
"You can sit anywhere,'' I said.
"Ohhhhhh,'' he said. "Thanks!''
"A good day to be a Cardinal.''
--@ddockett, Arizona defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, two hours after signing a four-year contract extension with $30 million in guaranteed new money with the Cardinals that will keep him in Arizona through 2015. He said his goal is to outplay this contract and earn another one in Arizona.
"Sitting behind kemo on the plane. Damn he has a huge head.''
--@mr_carter99, Washington linebacker Andre Carter, on the Redskins' charter taking them home from Arizona on Thursday night, with his view apparently eclipsed by the melon of nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu.
So I actually ran 13 miles on Friday. Ploddingly, but my legs kept moving for all 13, through Boston's South End and Back Bay and Cambridge and Allston, past Fenway on the way home. It might take me two and a half hours to run the New Hampshire Half-Marathon on Oct. 2 in Bristol, N.H., but now at least I have the hope I can do it.
I'd love to see you all get involved. I've got a webpage if you'd like to contribute to either of the charities I'm running for -- the Wounded Warrior Project (which financially supports seriously wounded soldiers as they transition to civilian life) or Feed the Children (which provides food and supplies to thousands of needy children and families). You can just follow the directions at http://www.runpeterkingrun.com/ and enrich the lives of those who need it most.
I asked for $5 for my "Five For Fighting'' USO project last season, and we raised $204,000 for recreational equipment for the U.S. troops in Afghanistan most far-removed from anything resembling a normal life. This time, I'm asking $10, either to be split between the two charities or to be given to your choice. (Actually, I'd take anything. If you can give $1, that's great too.)
Feed the Children is working with me so that if we raise $7,200, that would fund one semi-trailer chock-full of food and family supplies to be driven to an inner city with the contents helping hundreds of families. (And if we raise multiples of $7,200, that would be more trucks to more inner cities.) Wounded Warrior Project has many different programs your donations would go to. I urge you to click onto the site and read about each organization.
I've got one prize per week that I'll be giving out to donors. Here's the first: Two club seats to the Yankees-Red Sox game at Fenway Park on Friday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m. Face value is $175 per ticket. The first person to donate $500 to either cause (or $250 to both) will get these great seats -- very roomy, which, if you've been to Fenway, you know is a huge bonus -- to a game of the best rivalry in sports.